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15 Hallmarks of a Mature Christian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following is an excerpt from Brannon's new book, What Every Christian Should Know: Understanding and Defending Biblical Truths. For full details and to order please click here:

http://www.worldviewweekend.com/products/books/what-every-christian-should-know-understanding-defending-essential-biblical-truths

Hopefully, you will agree that Christians should be continually growing in godliness. The process of sanctification that begins in us when we are saved continues throughout our lives. But how do we recognize genuine maturity as we grow? Are there certain traits that reveal the level of maturity a believer has attained?

God’s Word is actually quite clear about what constitutes Christian maturity. I’ve identified in Scripture 15 different characteristics of maturity in Christ. Through Scripture, we know that God desires that we mature. First Corinthians 14:20 says, “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” We are called to growth.

In the book of 1 John, John describes varying levels of spiritual growth as children, young men, and fathers, and it should go without saying that we don’t want to remain as children. In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Ephesians 4:14-15 also speaks of not being a child, spiritually:

[W]e should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ. 

And in Hebrews 5:12-13: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”

The Hebrews passage actually chides believers for not growing as they should. These believers apparently don’t even have a grasp of Christianity 101, yet the writer thinks his readers have been Christians long enough to be much further down the road than they are. 

This should challenge all of us to wonder if we are where we should be with Christ. Are you “an approved workman, who need not be ashamed, rightfully dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)? Can you answer not only the Christianity 101 questions of your family and friends, but also go beyond? If not, why not? Do you have a desire to study God’s Word? Do you have an interest in growing in truth and in the knowledge of God’s Word? If not, you might question whether or not you’re really saved. 

I don’t suggest this to be an alarmist, but Scripture says we are to examine ourselves to make sure we’re in the Faith. We’re to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. And what does that refer to? It references working out our faith through ongoing obedience. A true believer is going be faithful and obedient. A maturing Christian develops beyond Christianity 101. That’s why the Hebrews 5 writer is troubled. These Christians still need milk, not solid food.

Some folks might believe that Hebrews is saying, “You still are in the milk section of the Bible,” in the same way a grocery store has a milk aisle and a meat department. The Bible is not like that, though. There is not a milk section and a meat section in Scripture. The Bible is all meat. What the Hebrews passage indicates is that these Christians are not going deep but are still skimming the surface. The “milk” approach is to be content just reading quickly through a passage of Scripture, whereas if you want meat, you will more likely get out your Strong’s Concordance and commentaries, so you can understand the Greek and Hebrew and cross-reference your study, letting Scripture interpret Scripture. You dig into the meat of the Word. The question is: How deep are you going with the Word of God? 

The Bible has a lot to say about being spiritually mature. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we see the goal of studying and knowing the Word of God: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (emphasis mine). Not remaining as children in the faith or staying as young men in the faith, but becoming grown spiritual men (and women) is what we’re intended for. 

So how do you know when “you’re getting there”? That’s what the 15 hallmarks of maturity can tell you.

1.
A spiritually maturing believer wants to know the will of God.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus points out the importance of wanting God’s will in how God views us: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” Someone who gets to heaven does the will of God the Father. In order to do His will, of course, you have to know what it is. Romans 12:2 shows us the way to find out: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

To know God’s will, we must not fall into the world’s way of thinking, but be renewed through Scripture to grasp a biblical worldview. A Christian must study God’s Word. 

One of the most common questions people ask me is, “How can I know the will of God for my life?” The way to know the will of God is through the study of God’s Word. When God’s Word fills your mind and heart, you begin to have godly desires, godly ambitions, godly goals, and pretty soon you don’t even have to wonder what the will of God is for your life, because God is placing His will in your life. He’s giving you the desire to do His will. 

As I explained in the chapter on God’s sovereignty, it’s the sort of experience I had in planning the Contend 2014 Conference. I had come to want what God wanted, so putting on the conference became an obvious thing to do. So, if you have the desire to do something good and godly and you’ve been faithfully seeking God through His Word, your desire is from Him. That means carrying it out would be doing His will. For instance, a young person may think, “I’m in college and have the desire to go to seminary and become a Bible teacher or pastor who teaches the Word of God, defends the Church, and carries out the mandate of a biblical New Testament church. Even though my original goal was to be an attorney, over the last few years of studying God’s Word, I now have the desire to be a pastor.” That’s most likely from God. 

I’ve seen this very thing happen in some surprising ways. A few years ago, a young man emailed me to say he was totally opposed to what we do here at Worldview Weekend. By his own admission, he was a false convert. Then, a few years later, he’d become a true believer and wrote me again. He had gone from planning to be an attorney, to wanting to be a pastor. Although he had intended from childhood to be an attorney, after studying God’s Word, all he wanted to do was go to seminary and teach Scripture. So, it is likely God’s will that he become a pastor. Why else would he now reject an earthly pursuit he’s had in mind for years and want to change his direction to become a Gospel preacher/teacher/shepherd/elder/expositor? It came from a change of his heart and mind, as described in Romans.

All the good and godly things we desire come only from the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Having such desires is sanctification at work, because left to our old nature and flesh, we desire evil rather than good. As Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heartisdeceitful above allthings,and desperatelywicked; Who can know it?” This is why study of God’s Word is necessary if God is to place good and godly desires on your heart. First Peter 4:2 tells what happens: “that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” Once you become a believer, you no longer live to the flesh; you are no longer a slave to sin, ruled by your flesh. You are now a slave to Christ. In John 7:17, Jesus assures us that “if anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine.” (The word doctrine means teaching or instruction.) And Ephesians 5:17 says, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” We’re commanded to know the will of the Lord. 

2. A spiritually maturing Christian loves the truth of God’s Word. 

 

To read this full chapter and the other chapters in this book click here to order now:

http://www.worldviewweekend.com/products/books/what-every-christian-should-know-understanding-defending-essential-biblical-truths